Baggies again suffer last-gasp heartbreak in six-goal stalemate
ALBION suffered stoppage-time heartbreak for the second successive home game – again after leading for the majority of a pulsating six-goal stalemate.
An early first-half Baggies blitz looked like securing back-to-back league wins for the first time in seven months following last weekend's 1-0 victory at Norwich.
Matej Vydra’s opener after just 28 seconds was swiftly followed by Chris Brunt’s fourth-minute volley and Stephane Sessegnon’s fourth of the campaign to make it 3-0 just past the half-hour mark.
And the Baggies' luck really seemed to be in, with Ben Foster saving Emmanuel Adebayor's 16th-minute spot-kick.
But a shell-shocked Spurs gave themselves a lifeline before half-time thanks to Jonas Olsson’s unfortunate 34th-minute own goal.
After the break the hosts came under increasing pressure from Tottenham, with Harry Kane finally finding a way through on 70.
And, just as it looked like Albion were going to bag another precious three points in the survival race, Christian Eriksen's strike in the fourth minute of stoppage time left them shattered at only taking a share of the spoils.
Mel made one enforced change to his starting XI as Tim Sherwood named an unchanged team.
Captain Chris Brunt made an earlier-than-expected return to Barclays Premier League action in place of the injured James Morrison (ankle).
The Baggies came roaring out of the traps and found themselves ahead within 28 seconds.
Albion’s Carrrow Road hero Morgan Amalfitano showed great patience and skill to beat Danny Rose out on the right by-line.
The France international then drove the ball into the six-yard box, where Hugo Lloris could only punch the ball away.
Matej Vydra pounced on the rebound and controlled his 12-yard volley well to find the net and get the fans Boing Boinging!
And The Hawthorns was rocking in the fourth minute after Amalfitano laid the ball back to Steven Reid on the right.
The Baggies full-back delivered a curling cross that Stephane Sessegnon flicked up in the air to the back post for Brunt, who struck a sweet volley across Lloris and into the far corner of the goal.
Three minutes later Harry Kane pounced on a loose ball on the left and cut inside before firing just wide of the left-hand post from 18 yards.
It was already proving an end-to-end encounter and on 11 Albion were appealing for a penalty when Vydra looked to be tripped by Vlad Chiriches just inside the box.
Referee Neil Swarbrick quickly waved the appeals away.
Kane then came even closer to scoring for Spurs as he directed Rose’s driven cross a whisker wide of the near post.
The visitors were gifted a lifeline in the 15th minute when Lanccashire official Swarbrick pointed to the spot following Amalfitano’s clumsy challenge on Nacer Chadli.
But Ben Foster came to the rescue as he flung himself to his left to hold Emmanuel Adebayor’s poor effort – meaning he has saved the last two penalties he has faced.
Vydra came close to scoring his second of the game on 20 as he showed good sharpness to get on the end of Brunt’s in-swinging cross – but Chiriches did well to get a block in.
Youssouf Mulumbu had the Tottenham defence twisting and turning six minutes later and eventually freed Amalfitano in the box.
The on-loan Marseille ace chose to go for goal rather than centre and he saw Lloris just manage to turn his fierce 12-yard drive onto the roof of the net.
Spurs were still also posing a threat and just before the hour mark Paulino drilled a 20-yard shot straight into Foster’s arms.
But the afternoon just kept getting better and better for the hosts when on 31 Jonas Olsson’s aerial ball down the left touchline saw Younes Kaboul’s header back towards his own goal wrong foot his central defensive partner Chiriches.
Sessegnon powered onto the loose ball just inside the Spurs half and showed immense strength to hold of Chiriches before coolly slotting past Lloris from 15 yards.
Tottenham gave themselves a glimmer of hope on 34 when Olsson was unfortunate to see Aaron Lennon’s right-wing cross deflect off his out-stretched leg and loop over Foster’s head into the net.
And the visitors would have cut the deficit further two minutes later had it not been for a superb Foster double save.
The England international firstly parried Paulinho’s strike and then quickly scrambled to his feet to scoop Rose’s follow-up off the line.
Brunt combined with Vydra again down the left on 37 and this time Kaboul was the Spurs defender to make a vital interception at the near post as the goalmouth action kept coming at the end of the first half.
Sherwood made a change at the break with Ezekiel Fryers replacing Chiriches after his torrid first period.
The first threat on goal of the second half came from the North Londoners when Reid could only half clear with his header and the ball fell nicely for Rose, who sent his 15-yard volley just wide of the far post.
Foster needed to be at his best again on 52 as he swooped low to his right to palm Lennon’s curling shot around the post.
Moments later the Albion No.1 did well to keep out Christian Eriksen’s in-swinging free-kick from the left as it threatened to creep in at the near post.
Rose found himself in the referee’s book on 55 as he dived in the box following Reid’s challenge with no obvious contact.
Mel made his first change three minutes later as Sessegnon made way for Yacob and switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with the Argentine charged with protecting the back-four.
McAuley made a goal-saving block inside the six-yard box on 68 after Kane back-heeled Chadli’s low right-wing cross goalwards.
The visitors’ pressure was mounting and with 20 minutes to go Lennon neat Liam Ridgewell on the right by-line and dinked a cross to the back post.
Kane’s downwards header bounced awkwardly between Foster and Reid and had just enough legs to creep over the line and make it uncomfortable for Albion.
Mel made his second change on 72 with Saido Berahino replacing the hard-working Vydra.
And the Baggies boss was forced into another change five minutes later as Craig Dawson replaced the injured Olsson.
Albion were living on a knife edge and nine minutes from time Dawson made a crucial block to prevent Adebayor scoring, with Rose blazing the follow-up over.
But for the second successive home game the Baggies saw three points turn to one deep into stoppage time as Eriksen controlled in the box and promptly found the top right-hand corner of the net.
ALBION (4-4-1-1): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson (Dawson 77), Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Brunt (c), Dorrans; Sessegnon (Yacob 58); Vydra (Berahino 72). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Jones, Bifouma, Anichebe.
TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches (Fryers HT), Kaboul (c), Rose (Townsend 85); Lennon, Chadli (Sigurdsson 78), Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane. Subs not used: Friedel (gk), Veljkovic, Bentaleb, Winks.
GOALS: ALBION – Vydra (1), Brunt (4), Sessegnon (31); TOTTENHAM – Olsson (og 34), Kane (70), Eriksen (90+4).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Dorrans (foul 62), Reid (foul 64), Ridgewell (foul 84); TOTTENHAM – Rose (simulation 55), Eriksen (foul 90).
REFEREE: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).
ALBION STARMAN: Morgan Amalfitano.